As always, I got a whole stack of books this Christmas. I love them. Actually, I’ve already read two of them and I’m on to the next two. When I got them, I started thinking about how they help us to live set apart. I also thought about how reading can help us to know who we are and better understand ourselves.
Reading obviously opens up knowledge. This knowledge seems to always be connected to who you are. No matter what you read, there will always be some knowledge in it, whether you are learning about something for the first time or reviewing it for the forty-fifth time. It helps you know who you are by connecting you to some truth. With Christian books especially, it helps us to know who we are in Christ and to dwell on the fact that we are dependent. With general fiction, it can sometimes attach us to the point of our humanness or our general fascination with the world.
Sometimes the lessons we learn or review about ourselves are bad and sometimes they are good. We all know that there’s a book about almost every subject nowadays, and that can be as freeing as it is dangerous. When we open a book, we’re also opening our minds to the knowledge it has with it. For the books I just read, Girl Meets Change and Coming Clean, the knowledge was good. I learned that just because change may seem bad in the moment, it doesn’t mean it is and it usually carries a blessing along with it, as well as some practical ways to deal with change. I also learned that we humans have some pretty crafty ways for dealing with pain, and that the route out of pain deals with forgiveness, facing the pain deep inside, and ultimately believing and trusting God.
There have been books that I’ve read that haven’t had the same kind of message, and they root deep inside me, sometimes tying me in knots without my knowledge. So I’m getting more intentional about what I read, as I did a little while ago when I realized some of the things I’m reading really aren’t good for me to read. I’m taking care of my temple and deciding to monitor what I read. It doesn’t mean I won’t mess up, and it doesn’t mean I’ll only read good stories with happy endings or that I won’t ever read the news, it just means that I’m taking care of me and stewarding these books as best I can.
So, what about you? What do you read and what do you learn about your identity from them? What are some of the books that have influenced your life in major ways?